Eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine will expand to all Illinois residents over the age of 16, except for those in the city of Chicago, beginning on April 12, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says.
Meanwhile, Chicago will enter Phase 1C, expanding coronavirus vaccine eligibility to include those with underlying health conditions and more essential workers, as planned on March 29.
And Walgreens has again apologized for a "technical glitch" with the COVID vaccine scheduler on its website, marking the third time in as many weeks that the company has acknowledged issues with its online appointment sign-up process.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
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COVID vs. the Consumer: Restaurants Battle to Survive the Pandemic
From our favorite neighborhood joints, to larger chains: restaurants everywhere got squeezed last year, and while some say government aid helped keep them afloat, many are questioning why their insurance didn’t also help, and are taking that question into federal court in Chicago.
There are three so-called "bellwether cases" selected by Chicago-based U.S. District Court Judge Edmond Chang to help determine whether business interruption coverage applies to many restaurateurs across the Midwest.
Illinois National Guard to Assist Vaccination Efforts in McHenry, Lake Counties
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that the Illinois National Guard will be deployed to the Lake County Fairgrounds to help bolster coronavirus vaccination efforts at the site, while a mobile vaccination team will now assist health officials in McHenry County to boost numbers there.
The announcement was made in a press release Thursday.
Read more here.
Batavia COVID Vaccine Hub Set to Open Friday
Kane County officials announced Thursday that a new mass vaccination site, called the Kane Vax Hub, will open in Batavia Friday.
The site will be located at 501 N. Randall Rd., in what was formerly a Sam's Club store. It will be will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, depending on vaccine supply, but only those currently in priority groups 1A, 1B and 1B+ are eligible for appointments, official said. Here's how to schedule an appointment.
How Soon Could Illinois Reach Phase 5, a Full Reopening?
How soon could Illinois reach Phase 5 of its reopening plan, marking a full reopening for the state? The answer might be sooner than you think.
As Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced new metrics for the state to fully reopen, a spokesperson for the governor's office said Phase 5 could come as early as May - should vaccinations continue on pace and cases remain steady or decline.
"I think there's a kind of an expeditiousness if you look at these metrics that we've set and how fast things are going into people's arms," Pritzker said. "We're really headed on a very good trajectory to get to Phase 5."
Pritzker Announces Changes to Phase 4 COVID Restrictions Under New Reopening Plan
Illinois' reopening plan is changing, but not just in the future.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that in addition to a new transition phase the state must reach before Phase 5, there are also changes being made to the current Phase 4 guidelines.
Under a new rule, anyone with proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test within one to three days of an event or outing will not count toward capacity limits.
In addition, lower-risk activities that were either not permitted or allowed at a lower capacity have been expanded in Phase 4.
Read more here.
Illinois COVID Vaccine Eligibility Will Expand to All Adults Outside Chicago in April, Pritzker Says
Eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine will expand to all Illinois residents over the age of 16, except for those in the city of Chicago, beginning on April 12, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday.
Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike made the announcement during a COVID-19 update in which he also unveiled a new framework for the state's reopening plan.
All Illinois residents over the age of 16 will be eligible to get vaccinated beginning on April 12, Pritzker said, adding that state officials in the coming days would make available more information on certain populations that will become eligible before that final expansion.
"At that date, all state-supported mass vaccination sites, local health departments, pharmacy partners – in short, every jurisdiction that receives vaccine from the State of Illinois’ allocation – will be instructed to move to widespread eligibility," Pritzker's office said in a statement.
All vaccinations will remain by appointment only, officials said, noting that "making an appointment to receive a shot may take time."
Pritzker's office also noted that residents who are not currently eligible to receive the vaccine cannot yet schedule an appointment for a future date, asking for patience in the days and weeks after April 12 as appointments "may be limited."
Pritzker Announces New ‘Bridge Phase' Aimed at Getting Illinois to Phase 5
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday new metrics and guidelines aimed at transitioning the state to a full reopening, unveiling what he called a "Bridge Phase" that would allow for higher capacity limits prior to entering Phase 5.
The new phase allows for higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos and spectator events as well as increased business operations, the state announced, but masks will continue to be mandated.
The updated guidelines bridge the gap between Phase 4, which the state is currently in, and Phase 5, which would mark a complete reopening and requires a widely available vaccine or highly effective treatment.
According to the governor, the so-called Bridge Phase "will serve as a transition period with higher capacity limits and increased business operations, without prematurely embracing a reckless reopening before the majority of Illinoisans have been vaccinated."
All of Illinois will move through the Bridge Phase and Phase 5 together, once they meet the required metrics, unlike previous tiered mitigations.
In order for Illinois to advance to the Bridge Phase, the entire state must reach a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and older, in addition to maintaining the current required metrics of at least 20% ICU beds availability and holding steady on hospitalizations for COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses, mortality rates and case rates over a 28-day monitoring period.
To move to Phase 5, the state must reach a 50% vaccination rate for residents age 16 and over and meet the same metrics and rates required to enter the transition phase, over an additional 28-day period, state officials said.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,325 New COVID Cases, 34 Deaths, More Than 91K Vaccinations Reported
Health officials in Illinois on Thursday reported 2,325 new coronavirus cases and 34 additional deaths, along with more than 91,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours.
According to figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the 2,325 new confirmed and probable COVID cases reported in the last day brought the state’s total to 1,216,090 cases since the pandemic began last year.
The 34 new deaths lifted the state's death toll to 21,022 fatalities related to the virus, according to health officials.
In the last 24 hours, state health officials say 89,817 new test specimens were returned to state laboratories, bringing the statewide total to 19,389,098 tests performed. According to health officials, the seven-day positivity rate on all tests currently stands at 2.4%, while the positivity rate for individuals tested is at 2.7%, both a slight increase from the day before.
As of Wednesday evening, 1,120 Illinois residents were hospitalized due to the virus. Of those patients, 252 were in ICU beds and 100 were on ventilators.
A total of 91,684 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the past 24 hours, a drop from the more than 102,000 shots given the day before, IDPH said. The latest figures brought the rolling seven-day average for daily vaccinations to 99,210. In all, Illinois has received 5,587,315 doses of the vaccine and of those, a total of 4,375,171 have been administered across the state.
Cook County Expands COVID Vaccine Eligibility to Phase 1B Plus Starting Next Week
Cook County will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to Phase 1B Plus beginning next week, the health department announced Wednesday.
Starting Monday, coronavirus vaccine doses will open to residents with certain high-risk medical conditions and comorbidities, in accordance with Illinois guidelines.
The list of qualifying high-risk medical conditions in Phase 1B Plus includes:
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
- Heart Condition
- Immunocompromised State from a Solid Organ Transplant
- Pulmonary Disease
- Sickle Cell Disease
Cook County Health will open new coronavirus vaccine appointments Friday at noon, the department announced. Residents eligible in the next vaccination phase can sign up here.
Are You Eligible? Here's Who Qualifies for COVID Vaccine Under Chicago's Phase 1C
As Chicago prepares to expand vaccine eligibility to more residents as it moves to Phase 1C later this month, who will become eligible?
Phase 1C, set to begin on March 29, will include those with underlying health conditions and essential workers like restaurant employees, those in personal care services, retail workers and more, officials announced Wednesday.
But the list of underlying conditions is not the same as the one being used for the state's Phase 1B Plus. Vaccinations at city-run sites will also be limited to city residents only.
For a full list of who is eligible in Chicago's Phase 1C, click here.
Chicago's Phase 1C Will Begin on March 29. Here's What That Means
Chicago will enter Phase 1C, expanding coronavirus vaccine eligibility to include those with underlying health conditions and essential workers, on March 29, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot officially announced Wednesday.
"We are here to announce that because of the progress that we've made today in fighting COVID-19 that we will move into category 1C as planned on March 29," Lightfoot said. "This is good news for the tens of thousands who are anxiously awaiting their turn to get the life saving COVID-19 vaccine."
Lightfoot noted the expansion means that in two weeks, vaccine eligibility in Chicago will expand to residents with underlying health conditions and essential workers, including restaurant employees, hotel workers, hairdressers, clergy members, construction workers, delivery drivers, and warehouse workers, among others. Those already eligible under Phases 1A and 1B will also remain eligible in 1C.
Read more here.
Walgreens Acknowledges Glitch With COVID Vaccine Scheduler Website, Third in as Many Weeks
Walgreens on Tuesday again apologized for a "technical glitch" with the COVID vaccine scheduler on its website, marking the third time in as many weeks that the company has acknowledged issues with its online appointment sign-up process.
Users began to report on Monday that the Walgreens website had booked second-dose vaccination appointments without also booking the preceding first doses. On Tuesday, Walgreens said that was a "glitch" that has since been resolved and that they would be reaching out to those impacted.
"A technical glitch allowed patients in select stores to book appointments for second dose time slots without also booking their first dose. This issue has been resolved," a representative for Walgreens said in a statement Tuesday evening.
Walgreens said that in addition to its online scheduler, appointments can be booked by calling 1-800-Walgreens (1-800-925-4733) or they can be made in stores or by calling a local Walgreens individually.
Note: For COVID-19, the herd-immunity threshold is estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent. Our analysis considers herd immunity reached at 75% of the population fully vaccinated based on estimates by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Lake County Identifies Its First Case of Brazil COVID Variant
Lake County health officials say the first case of the COVID-19 variant from Brazil has been identified in the county.
The Lake County Health Department said in a statement announcing the case on Wednesday that staff are investigating and that the person's travel history was unknown.
“This is the second new variant of COVID-19 to be identified in Lake County since February, and the rise of these new variants could impact the progress we have made this year,” Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister said in a statement.
The first case of the Brazilian variant P.1 in Illinois was reported by the Chicago Department of Public Health on March 5.